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Jason Newsted: ‘The Only Thing Original In Heavy Metal Is Black Sabbath’
ARTISTdirect.com editor-in-chief Rick Florino recently conducted an interview with former METALLICA, VOIVOD and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM bassist and current NEWSTED frontman Jason Newsted. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
ARTISTdirect.com: What influences you outside of music?
Newsted: A lot of them have to do with documentary films and reading. The [Pat Tillman story which inspired the NEWSTED song "Soldierhead"] came from reading. Certain influences come from that. Then you tap into experiences you’ve had, you start channeling, and it comes to you. At least it does for me. Once you start practicing that for years and know how to tap into the stream, then you can start pulling things out. It’s like it is with my paintings. I channel it, and it happens. I don’t really plan on what the painting is going to be. It just becomes what it becomes. Whatever comes out of my head is what happens. It’s the same with music. The immediacy of the music is because I was able to capture it the moment it came to me. I’ve got my guitar in hand and Garage Band ready. The moment I channeled it I recorded it, and it became the song as opposed to knocking it around, overthinking it, and all of that crap. Modern technology has bee na big help in me getting it the way it is now.
ARTISTdirect.com: Does painting come from a different mindset than music?
Newsted: There’s definitely a rhythm to it. I always have to music going when I’m painting. A lot of times the lyrics of those songs find themselves in the text in the painting. It’s a direct link to the music. By happenstance because of severe shoulder surgeries, I was “one-armed” for almost four years with three different surgeries — right arm, left arm, right arm. I had to learn to use both hands equally. All of my paintings are done with both hands and both sides of my brain. It’s like two people are coming at the canvas. It is a direct link. The paintings are the same as the music intensity-wise and color-wise the same as my bass playing. It’s the same thing just a different medium. It has to do with channeling and finding that place. None of it comes from nowhere. I try to keep a real wide variety of listening practice, and I have for years. I listen to all kinds of music in different languages with different instruments to make myself a better player. The more you pour in with books, documentaries, and good music, the more you regurgitate it out of your filters, it becomes your own. Things will always be regurgitated. The only thing original in heavy metal is BLACK SABBATH. Everything derives from that. In my style of painting, everything derives from Picasso. There are certain people who are such innovators that there’s no choice to just derive from that or take their lead. I try to take the lead of many great heroes, regurgitate it through my filter, and spit that shit out. I keep high standards. If it’s up to those standards or pretty close, other people dig it too.
ARTISTdirect.com: Does [NEWSTED's debut] EP ["Metal"] lay the groundwork for the full-length?
Newsted: Yeah! The initial intent of EPs back in the day was to be the primer of what’s going to come on the LP. We’re going to re-record a couple of songs for the LP, but the rest are all fresh songs. We’re delivering 13 tracks. Mike Mushok [STAIND guitarist] has been in the band for seven weeks, and we already completed the LP.
ARTISTdirect.com: Did you and Mike click instantly?
Newsted: Before we even played, I knew he was the dude. For the first five or ten minutes, we were just hanging around. Sense of humor-wise, professionally, clear-eyed, hardworking and determined — he was all of those things. It was like check, check, check. That’s what I do and he does. Nobody is stupid drunk or on drugs or any of that retarded shit. Every night we have dinner together. We’ll drink a bottle of wine together. We have our fun, but we choose our time for it. We’ll get a good one on, but we take our music very seriously. Once Mike started playing with us, it was on. It didn’t take long at all. He makes the heavy music heavier. I didn’t think that was possible. Because he plays seven-string, baritone, and all of these fucking psycho tunings, he reminds me so much of Piggy [VOIVOD] in so many ways. We set up for the auditions so we could see each other when we jam. That way we could communicate and fucking rock ‘n’ roll. I watched him, and I was like, “Oh my God!” With the way he was swinging his head and playing all of those psycho chords, he reminded me of Piggy. I miss Piggy so much. He was a great teacher and friend. He was taken way too fucking early. Mike brings that color and flavor. He knew the songs right away. He puts some great energy into the new songs. It’s fucking amazing. There’s no weak link on this stage.
Read the entire interview from ARTISTdirect.com.
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